By MARVYN N. BENANING
Manila, Philippines – The pending abolition of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) by 2014 will be a big problem for the Department of Agriculture (DA), which is slated to take over DAR’s functions.
Larry Tan, vice president of the National Food Authority Employees Association (NFAEA), claimed that the DA will be hard put in assuming the functions of DAR and noted that its employees perform a very technical function.
Tan said the Aquino government appears to be taking the reorganization policy of the Arroyo administration seriously as he noted this would lead to the separation of thousands of government employees who would be too young to retire and too old to be hired.
The NFAEA itself is battling attempts to abolish the food agency inasmuch as the Aquino government is intent on relinquishing its food security functions to the private sector, a shift that Tan oposes.
“Secretary Florencio Abad is bent on creating a lean but mean bureaucracy and is doing it in a manner that is mean and cruel,” Tan stressed.
Last week, DAR and DA employees staged a noontime protest to dramatize their opposition to a plan to merge the two departments with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Internal memos from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the DAR showed ineluctably that preparations for the dismantling of DAR had been in place since the middle part of last year.
One memo talked of the budget for personnel services going down to zero by 2014 and support services for CARP beneficiaries being shifted to DA.
DBM itself has been preparing to “wind down” the operations of DAR and this has been proven by the drastic slash in its budgetary allocation for this year.